Georgia teacher accused of threatening to kill student over Israeli flag question, police say

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(GEORGIA) — A Georgia teacher has been charged with terroristic threats and cruelty to children after he was accused of threatening a student who said she was offended by the Israeli flag in his classroom, according to a police incident report obtained by ABC News.

The Houston County Sheriff’s Office report states that Benjamin Reese, 51, who is listed as a seventh-grade social studies teacher on the Warner Robins Middle School website, was reported by another teacher for yelling at three students in a hallway on Dec. 7, according to the incident report.

He was allegedly heard yelling “you motherf—ing piece of s—! I’ll kick your a–! I should cut your motherf—ing head off!” toward students, according to statements included in the incident report. This was reportedly overheard by several teachers, staff members and students, according to the officer who responded to the incident.

The student who was said to be the target of Reese’s alleged outburst told police that she approached Reese about the Israeli flag in his classroom after she noticed it while walking by.

She “pointed at the Israeli flag and told Reese that she has a question about it,” the incident report read.

She reportedly asked why he had the Israeli flag hanging there, to which he is said to have responded, “that he was Jewish and has family members that still live there.”

The student’s account written in the report said she told Reese she found the flag offensive due to “Israelis killing Pakistanians.” It is unclear if the student or the responding officer who wrote the report meant to state “Palestinians” in the report in light of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war that has heightened tensions around the globe.

The student told the officer that Reese began to yell and approach her, and she stated that he “was trying to keep her from leaving and demanded to know who she was and who was her first period teacher.” She said she obliged before walking away from him with two other students.

The students said they heard him continuing to yell as they walked off, but did not make out what he was saying.

A separate account in the incident report stated neighboring classrooms began to hear the altercation when Reese allegedly yelled “you don’t make an antisemitic comment like that to a Jew” to the student, to which the student allegedly “responded negatively but was not yelling.”

Several accounts in the incident report stated that Reese continued to yell at the student as she left the classroom and walked down the hallway.

As he walked back into the classroom, Reese is said to have also stated that he would drag the student into the parking lot and slit her throat, according to accounts in the incident report.

The incident report stated that several students and faculty members expressed concern following the reported outbursts.

The report states that Reese denied speaking to anyone or that there was anyone in the hallway, before mentioning that “there was a student that came to his classroom telling him that she found the Israeli flag offensive. He responded that she was being antisemitic.”

“He went on to say that he has not said anything racist” and while being questioned further by the officer, “he retorted that he had nothing further to tell me and invoked his civil rights,” the report states.

Hallway video surveillance footage has no audio of the incident, according to police. The incident report states that footage captured both Reese in the hallway and the students involved walking away from him, with one turning to look back at Reese.

The officer was on duty at the middle school when a teacher reported the incident to him.

Reese was later arrested and has been released on bond.

ABC News has made several attempts to reach Reese via phone and email. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In a statement to ABC News, the Houston County School District said they are not able to discuss specific personnel matters, except that Reese has not been on the campus of Warner Robins Middle School since Dec. 7.

“All employees of the Houston County School District are required to follow the Code of Ethics for Educators,” the statement read. “If there is a violation, or accusation of a violation, we investigate and respond appropriately … Safety and the well-being of our students and staff is our number one priority.”
 

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